Wednesday, June 07, 2006

PA House Passes Marriage Protection Bill

Alas, the PA House passed HR 2381 136-61. Frightening. Why do they call this a blue state?

Stephen Stetler from York issued this press release, criticizing ('surprise'?) the Republican leadership:

Stetler votes against constitutional amendment and
says House Republicans once again fail to lead

HARRISBURG, June 6 – State Rep. Stephen H. Stetler, D-York, today voted against H.B. 2381 because it could take away existing legal protections, under local laws, for committed long-term heterosexual and homosexual couples and their children, such as hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, pension benefits and health insurance coverage.

“It really is shameful that the state House is wasting its time on gay marriage legislation when there are more pressing issues like property tax reform, health care and education that need resolved,” Stetler said. “Once again, the House Republicans are showcasing their leadership failure by allowing a vote on gay marriage, but blocking a vote on property tax relief for seniors.”

On May 3, House Republicans prevented a vote on Special Session H.B. 39, which would have raised the income limit for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program from $15,000 to $35,000 annually, increasing the number of eligible households from 335,000 to 800,000. The state Senate had already passed the bill 40-9 and Gov. Rendell was ready to sign it into law.

Stetler said H.B. 2381, not Special Session H.B. 39, should have been left off the House voting schedule. He voted on a motion today, which failed 88-109, to recommit the bill to the House Judiciary Committee for further clarification of the definition of “legal union” and a deeper study of the bill’s constitutional ramifications.

“I do understand and respect the position of H.B. 2381 supporters from a social and religious perspective. However, as a legislator, I also must examine this issue from a constitutional and legal point of view,” Stetler said. “Hence, I feel that our state constitution is intended to protect families, children and communities. It is not intended to discriminate against anyone for any reason. As a result, a person’s sexual orientation, identity or expression should not determine what constitutional rights they are entitled to.

Having passed the House 136-61, H.B. 2381 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.